The beauty of Slovak spas in photographs by Karol Palka

The unique atmosphere of Slovakian spas has been depicted in photographs by Karol Palka. This is the series of photographs ‘Spa Island’, for which the photographer received an award at the Sony World Photography Awards.

Karol Palka has prepared a photographic story about the architecture of spas in Slovakia. Such places are ingrained in the culture of the Slovaks and frequented by the people of the country. In 1947, a special balneological congress decided to divide Slovakia’s 50 or so spa towns into three categories: those of international, national and local significance. The facilities photographed by Karol Palka are a kind of water sanctuaries that allow an intimate and therapeutic relationship with water and the community.

Most spas with natural healing water are still in use in their original form. Meanwhile, in 2022, the drought affected more than half of Slovakia, and in some places lasted more than 200 days. In the photos you can see the unique interiors of the facilities, their sculptural forms and original decoration from decades ago.

Karol Palka received the second prize in the professional category ‘architecture & design’ for his photo series ‘Spa Island’. The winners of this year’s 17th edition of the competition were selected from 395,000 entries from 220 countries. The award-winning images of the best contemporary photographers can be seen at the Sony World Photography Awards 2024 exhibition at London’s Somerset House from 19 April to 6 May. The Exposition includes more than 200 works by award-winning photographers and a retrospective of works by this year’s winner of the Outstanding Contribution to the Field of Photography Award, Sebastião Salgado.

Karol Pałka – photographer and film director. Graduate of the Film School in Katowice, the Wajda School and the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, where he received his doctorate in art. He is currently Assistant Professor at the Art Education Institute of the Academy of Fine Arts. His works have been awarded many times at international competitions such as: Hasselblad Masters, Lensculture, PDN Photo Annual, Calvert Journal and shown at many international exhibitions and festivals. His feature-length documentary film ‘Bucolika’ had its world premiere at the Locarno International Film Festival and received the award for best Polish film at the Millenium Against Gravity festival.

cinematography: Karol Palka(

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